TIJUANA, Mexico – Two men were slain and hung from a bridge, another was decapitated and a fourth was shot to death over 24 hours in Tijuana, the latest gruesome killings in a Mexican border city where hopes had risen that cartel violence was decreasing.
The bodies of two men were found hanging from the Los Alamos bridge early Friday, said Fermin Gomez, Baja California state's deputy attorney general for organized crime.
Both victims had their hands and feet bound and one had his head covered with a black plastic bag. One of the bodies fell into traffic when the rope broke.
A day earlier, a human head was found underneath another bridge in Tijuana, which sits across from San Diego, California. The body of the 24-year-old man was found 12 hours later alongside the highway from Tijuana to the beach town of Ensenada.
Gomez said the victim, Victor Ramirez, had recently been deported from the United States, though he had no information on the circumstances.
Also Thursday, a man was shot to death while leaving his house in the exclusive Tijuana neighborhood of Chapultepec, and two other people were wounded in a shootout on one of the city's main avenues.
Gomez blamed the killings on feuding between drug-dealing gangs, but declined to give details.
Beheadings, massacres and body hangings had initially declined in Tijuana since the January arrest of Teodoro "El Teo" Garcia Simental, one of two crime bosses who had been waging a bloody turf war in the city.
President Felipe Calderon even visited Tijuana last month and touted it as a success story in his nearly four-year-old drug war, noting during a festival to promote the city's industries that homicides are down from a peak in 2008.
Days after his visit, drug gangs started beheading rivals and hanging bodies from bridges again. On Oct. 24, armed men burst into a Tijuana drug rehab center and killed 13 recovering addicts.
Prosecutors say they are investigating whether the rehab massacre was related to a record seizure of nearly 135 tons of marijuana the previous week.
The latest killings come two weeks after U.S. authorities made one of the largest marijuana seizures in San Diego, confiscating more than 20 tons of pot that was smuggled in through a tunnel connecting warehouses on either side of the border. Mexican authorities seized more than four tons of pot from the warehouse on their side of the border.
Meanwhile, the lawyer for alleged drug kingpin Edgar "La Barbie" Valdez Villareal said Friday that the Mexican government will not deport the U.S. citizen for prosecution in the United States.
The government considers Valdez, son of Mexican-born parents, a Mexican national who must go through the more complicated extradition process to be sent out of the country, attorney Kent Schaffer said.
Mexico has increasingly extradited high-profile drug kingpins to the U.S. under Calderon, a way to prevent them from running cartels from corrupt Mexican prisons.